Echo Brand Design, an independent brand design, innovation, and sustainability agency in London of 20 people, joined Blueprint 1000® in November 2021 with a couple of key objectives. They wanted to inspire children and young adults of secondary school age to embark on a career in design, especially (but not limited to) students who would not otherwise have this opportunity presented to them. They believed that by increasing awareness with teachers about the value of creativity as a career choice they could achieve this and highlight the additional job roles that exist within a design agency.
The first thing that happens with a new Blueprint 1000® member is that we meet with them to discuss the outcomes they are looking for and the extensive and flexible range of options that we can offer to achieve those objectives. In this case we collectively agreed that a Teachers In Residence programme would be an excellent way of achieving the identified outcomes.
In normal times this consists of a teacher spending three to five days in a business where they would be immersed in the day-to-day business activity across different departments, providing a 360 degree first hand experience of working in industry. This helps the teacher develop a deeper understanding of modern industry and the technical skills and attributes required by employees, with a clear view of career pathways for their students.
This activity is planned. However, due to the timing of this project and the status of the pandemic this was not going to work at this time and also Echo wanted to reach more schools from across the country to give them the opportunity to participate so we decided to host our first ever on-line Teachers In Residence programme. The Design and Technology Association recruited a number of our teacher members from across the country, who committed 3 hours to the session on a Friday afternoon. The on-line format made it easier for teachers to participate without the complications and cost of arranging cover for a slightly more extended period.
During the session Nick, Susie and the broader team from Echo explained the design process that they go through and took the teachers on a virtual tour of their London design studio.
They each openly shared their career path that had brought them to their role at Echo and then explained what their role at Echo entails. They took the teachers through a couple of case studies from actual work they have done including how they helped position Kleenex as a more caring brand that has a place in the home regardless of active colds and flu, through a partnership with Mind and how they helped English Tea Shop to develop new packaging and to celebrate their heritage and ingredients.
Teachers then had the opportunity to ask the team at Echo for advice about how to tailor the skills they are teaching to better meet the needs of business such as how to ensure the idea generation process is not overlooked at the expense of a focus on CAD design.
The teachers were surveyed anonymously after the session and 100% of them said the session met their expectations and that they found both the career pathways and design process and examples equally valuable.
They also felt that the session helps teachers to understand how a design agency operates and will enable approximately 2000 students to also receive that benefit via their teachers. Very positive additional feedback was received including “To be honest I thought the whole session was excellent, came away learning about many things including roles I would not even associate with a design agency” Participating teacher.
We anticipate that we will offer another online session in the near future so more teachers can hear about Echo first hand and have their questions answered.
“It was great to share our approach to design with some of the teachers who build the foundations of learning in our sector from across the country and to explain our own career paths that have brought us here. If this encourages even one additional young person to consider a career in a design agency it will have been well worth it. Our team thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and left enthused after the session.”